2017-09-27 / Front Page

Tenant Dies, Search For Legionnaires Virus Continues

By Liz Goff
The city Department of Health (DOH) is testing the hot water system at a Rego Park apartment building for signs of bacteria linked to Legionnaires Disease.

DOH workers posted a “Notice To Tenants” in the lobby of Hampton House at 93-10 Queens Boulevard, advising residents that the agency is working with building management to test the hot water system.

The notice confirms that two tenants at Hampton House were diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease over the last year. The victims were diagnosed six months apart, DOH officials said. One tenant has returned home while the other, a senior with underlying health issues, has passed away.

“While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of the routine protocol to assess potential sources of Legionnaires Disease, the Health Department is now working with the building management to test the building’s hot water system,” DOH officials said.

Health officials stressed that the Rego Park building does not have a water tower, unlike buildings in the South Bronx, where contaminated water towers were cited as the source of a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires Disease. Eleven people died and 120 were sickened in that outbreak.

Legionnaires Disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria found in contaminated water systems, a DOH spokesperson explained. Victims develop flu-like symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The disease, which is not contagious, and can only by contracted by breathing water vapor contaminated by the bacteria, the DOH spokesperson said.

The city is obligated to advise tenants when two or more cases of Legionnaires Disease are reported within a 12-month period at a single address, the DOH spokesperson said. It is unclear when the two Rego Park tenants contracted the disease. The disease is easily treated with available antibiotics, DOH officials said.

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